Issue: March 2012 - Animation

5 Questions: Frank Meschkuleit, Puppeteer and Voice Actor

Frank Meschkuleit has been a puppeteer and voiceover artist in Toronto for 30 years. During that time he’s lent his dulcet tones and nimble fingers to everything from animals (hippos, chickens, beavers) to otherwordly-based beings (vampires, aliens, killer dolls) to inanimate objects (wallpaper, chairs, shoes) and he’s clearly had a ball doing it. “I have a job that rewards me for playing,” said Meschkuleit. “I like to play. It’s fun!” Meschkuleit studied physical theatre for two years, and got his professional start after stumbling into an audition with Jim Henson’s company. His audition was peculiar enough to get a...

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The National Film Board of Canada: building a national cinema worth awarding

Canadian film has suffered ups and downs over the course of its recorded history, but few ups have been as important as the founding of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and its close connection to the National Film Act. Internationally known for its animated and documentary films, and easily identifiable by its “eye” logo, the NFB is a central part of the richness of Canada’s current cinema, creating opportunities for new filmmakers to explore their craft in an artistically free environment, with award-winning results.

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Toronto for Rent: Videoflicks

In the current video rental climate, there’s no doubt that many of Toronto’s local independent video stores are starting to feel the burn thanks to the growing popularity of the digital download. Not so at Videoflicks, the midtown home video institution that’s been serving the surrounding community for more than 25 years. “[Netflix] seems to have had little effect on us; year after year we have been experiencing double-digit gains,” says owner Steve Cohen. Maybe it’s the comprehensive 15,000-strong inventory of everything from new releases to foreign to cult to kiddie favourites or maybe it’s the free popcorn and...

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Spotlight On: Made IN Toronto Film Festival

The Made IN Toronto Film Festival (MINT), a monthly documentary screening series, will be celebrating not only World Water Day on March 22, but also its one year anniversary. While each MINT event includes a film screening, the festival also works to stitch together Toronto’s film, music, and artistic communities around a central theme, and this month is no exception. The event will feature three documentary shorts, the documentary feature film Spoil, panel discussions, a juggler, musicians, and a comedian.

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The state of Canadian animation and 3 animators to watch

Much as it is with all kinds, genres, and flavors of film making, Toronto (and Canada in general), is ripe with animation talent. However, as in other areas of film making, animators face the same Canadian disparity between production and distribution, between output and demand. Or rather, animators face those disparities when feeding content down the tried-and-true entertainment channels of festivals, theatrical releases, and television. But what if the Canadian animation community is uniquely geared to exploiting newer and more direct distribution channels? TFS recently sat down with Mike Valiquette, Director of Development at Smiley Guy Studios, publisher of Canadian Animation Resources, and all around animation know-it-all, to take the pulse of Canadian animation.

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At Home Film Festival: animation for adults

It goes without saying that much of the world’s best animation can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, no matter who the intended audience is. We need look no further than the current Studio Ghibli retrospective at TIFF Bell Lightbox for examples of some incredibly nuanced, emotionally complex storytelling that has something profound to offer to audiences of all ages. But really, what would be the fun of being an adult, if we didn’t get to have ice cream for dinner, go to bed late, and enjoy some animated films that just aren’t for kids at all?

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Spotlight On: Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS)

Since 1984, the Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) has encouraged animation as an art form. The artist-run, not-for-profit organization is deeply committed to animation and those who create it, but in the most practical terms. With a fully-equipped animation studio in Liberty Village, TAIS provides affordable access to specialized equipment. Through talks with master animators, workshops, monthly “Incubators,” and annual animation showcases, TAIS promotes the exchange of information, ideas, and encourages animators to do what they do best: animate.

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